Decision Swatching

March 5, 2012 10:08 am | by

…and so it begins.

How do you get a sweater to fit?  S&M.  Swatch and measure.  Swatch some more.  I’ve been busy… swatching.  Me.  Yes, really.

Joan, Martha and I met last Sunday to begin the process that would eventually end with me standing on the side of the sea in Scotland wearing my perfectly fit gansey and a huge smile.  We had a wonderful, exhausting afternoon working through the beginnings of our projects.

Our homework before class was to do some reading – which I dutifully completed.   Then on to swatch for fabric density.  I decided on 7 sts and 9 rows to the inch.  With every stitch, I fall deeper in love with this fabric.  In my dreams, my cheeks are red from the wind at the sea, but my body is snuggled in blue wool and toasty warm.  It’s just over a year away now… and Jim may need one of these babies too!

With pencils, calculator and tape measures in hand, we started to put it all to paper.  I charted out my initials – they looked good on paper, but the true test would be fabric.  Yep… another swatch.  Yes.  Me.

…and so I dutifully swatched again.

the letters that define me

Hmm.  Too big?  Too spacy?  Turns out I’m starting to understand the whole swatch thing.  Did I mention the erasers? Gotta love those beautiful white gummy German erasers!  I’ve been giving mine a real workout… and it continues.

I’ve decided to use the Chanel Island cast on, followed by a garter welt and then a vertical 2×2 rib in an attempt to hide an inch or two of the results of my sweet addiction.

The real deal

I tightened up the spacing on the letters a bit and placed them about 1 1/2 inches up from the end of my welt.  I’m really liking it!

Check out the little cables on the side.  My Mitt class with Beth Brown-Reinsel in January left me wondering if I could use the cable surrounded 1/2 gusset area in my sweater.  I wanted the cables to run up the sides of the gansey, then split and wrap around the underarm diamond gusset and rejoin to follow down the sleeve seam.  I wondered if the cables would need to flow out of the gusset and up the front and back of the sweater, or if they would perform the way I wanted.

Another swatch.  Geez – I think I’ve swatched nearly 200 yards!  Turns out decision swatching is important work.

proof is in the gusset!

I now have a plan in place.  My side seams will be 10 stitches each – with 2 cute little mini cables running up the sides of my sweater.  I tried out several decrease styles until I finally settled on what I think will keep my diamond shape as clean and straight as possible – the pic shows several attempts.

Homework:  Decisions.  No sweater knitting.  Decide what type of welt we wanted, decide on a gusset style, decide on side seam stitches.  Read another chapter.  Scotch tape a bunch of knitters graph paper together so we’re ready to begin laying out a plan.

I’m a rebel.  My sweater is now about 7 inches long.  My graph paper has been having an affair with that fabulous gummy eraser.

The plan.

Gotta love it when a plan comes together.

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  • Anne Szabo says:

    Wow, I am impressed. Hate swatching but you have sold me on its value!

    • Caroline says:

      I know – right?! I’m still checking my gauge as I’m working the sweater, but the swatching is sure saving time between the design work and the actual sweater. It’s loads easier to rip out a 40 or 50 stitch swatch than it is to pull out 320 stitch rows!

  • Robin Del Guidice says:

    Wow! This is going to be super and all that swatching and planning ahead looks like it will pay off big-time.